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Duck Duck Goose

Duck duck goose is a game often learned by children at pre-school or primary age. As it involves sitting in a circle and having students run around the outside, it may not be suitable for all classrooms. However, for teachers with access to a large hall or outdoor space in the summer, this game is sure to be a winner.

A number of variations of this game exist around the world (see variations).

duck duck goose
You don't have to use the words duck and goose in this game.


1: Have students sit in a circle on the floor. Ensure there is ample space to walk around the outside of the circle.

2: Walk around the circle touching each students’ head and saying duck. After several students, say goose.

3: The chosen student should chase you around the outside of the circle. When you get back to their space, join the circle. The student will now take over walking around the circle and selecting the next student as they are “on.”

4: If the student who is “on” is caught up by the student they have chosen, the chosen student may sit back down and the same student will select again.

On whiteboard: ABC
S1: Hi what’s up
S2: I’m fine


1: In some cultures touching the head may be culturally offensive, for example in Thailand. There is in fact a Thai variant of this game called Mon Sunpa (hiding a cloth behind someone’s back). The game is played by walking around the circle while everyone chants. The person who is “on” has a cloth which they place behind another student. When the chant stops, the chosen student chases the person who is “on” as before.

This variation is similar to a version played in England called “Drop the handkerchief” or “Kiss in the ring”. In these variants the picker places a handkerchief on the shoulder of the chosen person.

2: Instead of duck duck goose, students could use any sequential lexical set e.g. letters, numbers, days or months. They could use two other words e.g. zombie, zombie, ghost. They could even just say any English words. However, with any set of vocabulary the word for selecting another student should be made clear.

3: In Minnesota, a variation of this game is duck, duck, gray duck. In this version, the phrase to select the person may be (for example) an adjective noun collocation such as gray duck. The picker may say such phrases as “great duck” and “grape duck” which sound similar, requiring students to listen closely.

4: In hot countries, a version known as drip, drip, drop is played. In this version, the picker drips a small amount of water onto each person, emptying the water on the chosen person. This is not recommended indoors, but outside in hot weather may be a welcome summer camp activity.

Example Language:

Letters (i.e. a, b, c)

Numbers – cardinal and ordinal (e.g. one, two, three or first, second. third)

Days of the week

Months of the year

Any other two words (e.g. zombie, ghost or lizard, crocodile)

Adjective noun collocations (e.g. gray duck, big dog, blue cat)

photo credit: USFWS Mountain Prairie Canada goose at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge via photopin (license)

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